Months of peaceful protest, in which the closing of Freeport mine in the highlands of Papua was demanded, escaleted on16 March of 2006. Four police men and one member of the airforce were killed in a clash between the demonstrators in Abepura, a college town about ten kilometres from the provincial capital, Jayapura. In the aftermath of this incident, a wide range of wide range of human rights violations, such as torture, destruction of property, repression of the freedom of expression and unfair trial, were committed by the Indonesian authorities.

Participants of the Faith Based Network have plead for a fair trial and have repeatedly asked the UN, the EU and their national government on the condition and whereabouts of the 24 political prisoners who where tried and convicted for crimes related to the Abepura incident.


"What do they think the Amungme are? Human? Half-human? Or not human at all? If we were seen as human . . . they would not take the most valued property of the Amungme, just as we have never wanted to take the property of others.. I sometimes wonder, whose actions are more primitive?"

One Amungme (one of the peoples living in the Timika area where Freeport operates) community leader questioned in the Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold arrived in Papua in 1967 and is now one of the lagest gold and copper mines in the world. Its operations are accompanied by

human rights violations committed by military and police that safeguard the mining area; the payment of “protection money” by Freeport to the TNI and Police; environmental damage and pollution that threats the existence of the Papuan peoples living surrounding the mining area.

Although the company promised to improve its operations, Papuans were never consulted in the measures taken. Political channels to express grievances where blocked as well.

Human rights violations after the Abepure II

After the clash on 16 March Mobile Brigade police forces (BRIMOB) to conducted house-to-house searches in Abepura and its surrounding suburbs. During the action and the detention period, the military and police were accused of ignoring human rights of the civil society. The judiciary was criticized for failing to provide fair trial for the accused. The following examples are just a few of the of the human rights violations that have taken place:


The 24 detained citizens were reportedly intimidated and ill-treated during police interrogation in order to ‘confess’ their involvement in the violence. One of them reported that a senior police officer threatened to shoot him if he did not disclose certain information. The defendants also reported that, two hours before their trial in May, they were kicked by police officers, who also beat them around the head and body with rifle butts and rubber batons in order to compel them to admit that they were guilty before the court. Those who refused to acknowledge the charges of which they were accused were allegedly beaten and kicked by police when they returned to detention.

Repression on Freedom of Expression

Local NGOs observe that the media in general produce tainted reports due to authority control. Journalists trying to collect information to reveal the truth behind the Abepure incident were repressed. On 18 March 2006, Chief of Police of Papua, Inspector General Tommy Jacobus, apologized to the journalists for the harassment committed by his officers.

Unfair Trial

The right to counsel all detained has been repeatedly infringed upon. During a visit of the Justice and Peace Secretariat of the Jayapura Diocese and its partner organisations, a detainee revealed that they were not been accompanied by lawyer assigned to them during interrogation. As a result, some of the detainees felt afraid and admitted falsely to the involvement in the events.
Observations have shown there was a lack of independent judges. Judges use questioning techniques, aimed towards intimidating witnesses to make statements against the accused. During the second hearing on 24 May 2006, a police witness was forced to admit he knew the accused when Judge Lakoni reprimanded him saying, “You are a member of the security forces, so you should speak clearly, or do you want to be punished? You must be loyal to your oath and not bring shame on your unit.” Lawyers and human rights defenders involved with the trials were subjected to intimidation and received death threats.
According to the preliminary report by the Ecumenical Council of Churches, material evidence submitted to the hearing had not been found at the location were the Abepura incident had taken place, but was taken from another location, irrelevant to the case.

Abepura l

It was not the first time the tensions between students and the police escalated. On 7 December 2007, an unidentified group of people attacked a police post near the market in Abepura. Two policemen were killed in the initial attack and security guard was killed shortly thereafter at a nearby government office. Soon after the attack began, Brimob and police reinforcements arrived at the market. The perpetrators quickly dispersed in various directions and none were caught. A small group of the attackers headed for a nearby student dormitory. The attackers appealed to students to join their uprising, but then left when the students refused to do so.
Shortly after the attackers left, a group of Brimob troops, apparently in hot pursuit, stormed the Ninmin dormitory. The troop awakened students who were not already awake, rounded them up, twenty-three in all, and began brutally beating them. Two would die in custody, dozens suffered serious injuries. Over the next twenty-two hours, Brimob and police troops went to other dormitories in the Jayapura rounding up and brutalizing people as they went, often in broad daylight, shooting and killing one high school student and injuring many more. Within twenty-four hours, three students had been killed, and one hundred individuals had been detained, dozens of whom were badly beaten and tortured.

The Swiss journalist Oswald Iten, detained for taking ‘political photographs’, witnessed:

‘About half a dozen policemen were swinging their clubs at bodies that were lying on the floor and, oddly enough, did not cry out; at most, only soft groans issued from them. After a few long seconds, a guard saw me looking and struck his club against the bars of the cell block door. I quickly went back to my usual spot, from were I could still see the clubs, staffs and split bamboo whips at their work. Their ends were smeared with blood and blood sprayed the walls all the way up on benches, continuing to strike blows from there or jumping back down on the bodies below. Thousands of blows must have descended on what to me was an unknown number of people.’

Iten reported that, later that morning, some of the student detainees were put in the same cell with him. One of the student detainees died in his presence:

‘Most of [the detainees] remained motionless where the fell, either unconscious or utterly exhausted…. The last one to enter (my cell) was a large man, who fell over the bodies on the floor and lay there groaning horribly. He tried repeatedly to straighten himself up, only to fall back down again. Now and again the faces of guards appeared at the barred window, looking down impassively at the tangle of maltreated bodies. In the back of the big man’s head, there appeared to be a coin-sized hole through which I believed to spot some brain tissue. After nearly an hour and a half of groaning and spasmodic movement, his suffering body visibly neared its end. About two meters from me, his powerful body raised itself again and his head struck the wall. A final labored breath issued from him, then his head dropped down onto the cement floor. At last his agony was over. After a while, three lackeys came and dragged the body out. Later I learned that the man who had been tortured to death was named Ori Dronggi.”

Quotes from: ‘Indonesia: Violence and Political Impasse in Papua’, Human Rights Watch 2001.

An investigation into the case began in February 2001. In February 2003, the Attorney General’s Office announced that it had completed its investigation, and named the former Jayapura Police Chief and Police Mobile Brigade Commander as suspects by an earlier inquiry by the National Human Rights court in Makassar acquitted the two police officers. Not a single member of the Indonesian police force has been convicted for these crimes. The verdict in Makassar further denied justice to the victims by failing to award compensation to them and their families, as provided for in the Law establishing Human Rights Courts.